By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
“…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:3-4
Waiting! It has always been a real big problem for us men, women, and children. Children waiting pensively to open Christmas gifts under the tree. Commuters waiting in massive, annoying, traffic jams. Growling stomachs waiting in fast food lines, not desiring slow food, of course. Anxious hearts waiting for lab results, biopsies, MRI outcomes, and doctors’ prognoses. Waiting to see if our children are really safe. Waiting to see if you got that job. Wait, wait, and wait some more. Painful to our psyches. Creator of our headaches. Anxious nerves squeezing mind and heart. Waiting is no easy task!
Advent’s theme (from 4 weeks before Christmas to Epiphany on January 6) is all about learning far better, the necessity, the rewarding perseverance, and yet, eventually, the joy of waiting. Waiting, primarily, for the Messiah, for the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, for the very One who will crush Satan under His feet, who will be victorious for you in removing the awful, agonizing, sting of death. Not only waiting the long centuries for the first coming of Messiah, but once He came, waiting for Him to come again, a final time!
From those ages of millenniums past, from the dawn of Creation when God spoke intimately to our parents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden, and then all the tens of centuries up until Jesus was born in Bethlehem, with His mysterious virgin birth foretold, but only celebrated at that time by a handful (such as Simeon, Anna, and Wisemen); just think, if you can, of all the faithful waiters waiting through all those years, generation after generation. Learn from them!
Then, prompted by the OT writings and NT prophesies, focused on His second coming, waiting for their fulfillment through these last 21 centuries, until finally, the fiery cataclysm which destroys the earth and the universe at the end of these last days, and Jesus then appearing on the clouds for all the world to witness, wail, and/or bow in adoration. Can you truly conceive of this grand picture Scripture sets truthfully before you and all the world? Whether they read it or not. The Psalmist says to you, “Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 130)
The scoffers described in 2 Peter 3, who thought nothing had changed from the beginning of history, must be factually reminded by Peter of the great destroying flood, drowning everyone but the few passengers of Noah’s Ark. How can such a universally known massive event be so willfully forgotten? And these flood waters, here contrasted with the similar later destruction of the earth by fire in the last days when Christ returns like a thief in the night, unannounced, date and time unknown, surprising, terrifying all who are not looking for His coming. Scoffers indeed! Bending truth to their own errant argument. Learn from their mistakes.
Advent, the Christmas season, is meant to be this time of learning, remembrance, and encouragement in which you celebrate again His incarnation, God becoming man, but then also yearn for His return with eager expectation (Titus 2:11-14). It is an absolutely wondrous season, intended to teach and encourage you in the perseverance of waiting, and the immense joy of one day witnessing the promised result. Use these days of Advent meaningfully and worshipfully. And prayerfully proclaim while you wait, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
“Born Thy people to deliver, born a Child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone: by Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
(4th verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” 1744)